Enlightenment at the End of the Tunnel
What if death is the ultimate spiritual experience?
Living with terminal illness, confronting death, transforms us with a magnitude and intensity beyond anything we can imagine in the apparent safety and security of our health. It is a long, painful, frightening, and lonely course that strips us of so much of who we thought ourselves to be--appearances we took for granted, abilities we always assumed, roles in life with which we've identified. Even the capacity to remain in cramped negative emotions slips away. In our dying, all that has held our sense of "me" together becomes unraveled.
All these losses are frightening to contemplate and profoundly difficult to endure. And yet, surprisingly, at some point in the process of living at the edge of life--for some sooner, for some later--people seem to discover there is also a curious liberation and newfound grace in the transformations they are experiencing. In a deeply interior way, this can be a profound and beautiful passage that empties the mind, opens the heart, and expands our awareness into the landscape of Spirit. It is my conviction that dying is far more a spiritual event than a medical one, and it is my hope that the spiritual dimensions of death and dying will soon be met with widespread and heartfelt recognition.
|It is my conviction that dying is far more a spiritual event than a medical one...|
I spent six years working with hospice patients. I have had the opportunity to be with hundreds of people as they neared death and as they died, the chance to sit with them, listen to them, breathe with them, and meditate with them in their last days, hours, and moments.
Such vigils disclose an awareness of further and deeper dimensions to life. Sitting by the bedside of someone dying, you become very aware that there is not only this world of bodies and things we know so well but also an already interpenetrating, vast, streaming, more subtle world saturated with the sacred. When someone is dying, a veil is parted, almost literally, and we are granted a glimpse of the sacred as it reveals itself. It becomes overwhelmingly apparent that weare